Belfast Telegraph

Finance minister Mairtin O'Muilleoir involved in US website takeover

By Staff Reporter

Finance Minister Mairtin O'Muilleoir is part of a group of investors which has bought a news and entertainment website in the US, it has emerged.

Mr O'Muilleoir, owner and former managing director of newspaper company Belfast Media Group, is among the shareholders in IrishCentral, which is led by New York venture capitalist Liam Lynch. The website was snapped up by Mr Lynch for $3m in May.

The minister updated his Northern Ireland Assembly member's register of interests to include his purchase of IrishCentral in a reference to Irish Studios LLC.

Mr Lynch and his investors bought out investors and supporters of website founder Niall O'Dowd. In an article in the Irish Times, Liam Lynch described Mr O'Muilleoir as "one of our passive investors".

Mr O'Mueilloir remains a 100% shareholder in Belfast Media Group, owner of the Andersonstown News and New York Irish-American newspaper The Irish Echo.

According to Companies House, he resigned as managing director in May, although he remains a director.

The minister said he was satisfied he had complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct. He said: "In terms of transparency regarding public and private roles, the Ministerial Code of Conduct places clear requirements on ministers to make sure that their positions are not used for personal gain.

"All my relevant interests are declared and rules regarding gifts and hospitality are adhered to. I am satisfied that I am fully compliant with the code."

Yesterday, IrishCentral led with a call for Liverpool to be named the 33rd county in Ireland, and a piece on whether Ireland could follow the UK's example in leaving the European Union.

There was also a photo gallery of Ireland's "most fabulous celebrity weddings".

The site has two million unique visitors every month and is part of the same media group as magazine Irish Voice and newspaper Irish Emigrant.

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